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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

on 22 August 2012
It's tough to review an Ariel Pink LP. Chances are you arrive at this with previous introduction to his universe so I'll keep it fairly brief. There are often more ideas in one track than in the entire output of say, for argument's sake, Oasis. It takes a while to digest, unravel and let the songs really get under your skin. However, on the first couple of spins `Mature Themes' is a thrilling listen, filled with the usual fragmented streams of psycho-babble and awesome pop chops. Whereas on the one hand you have the stoner in-japery of `Schnitzel Boogie' and `Is This The Best Spot?' you also have `Only In My Dreams' which, in a parallel universe, spent longer at number one in the charts than Bryan Adams' `Everything I do' and the title track which sounds like Elvis Costello cribbing from a Wesleyan hymn book.

For me, the real killer material comes on Side 2 - from the pervy narcissistic ruminations of `Symphony of The Nymph' through to the glorious vintage synth clouds of `Nostradamus and Me' it's a superb suite which harks back to the more accessible, dreamy numbers on `Worn Copy' and `Lover Boy'. Despite Ariel's protestations, it's a wonderful bridge between his older material and the (comparatively) smoother `Before Today' sound.

So again I give Mr Pink my arbitrary 5 stars - I love his kaleidoscopic world and there's really nothing else quite like it when you're in the mood.
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on 20 August 2012
Having previously dwelt at length in the realms of lo-fi psyche, Ariel Pink reputedly had his arm twisted into making 2010's very well-received Before Today LP. Somewhat stumbling into the limelight therefore and, several public meltdowns since, it's perhaps offhand to suggest that he was never quite comfortable with that album's soft-rock sound and its relatively popular jams.

To a degree then Pink and his Haunted Graffiti band return to type on Mature Themes. The improved production quality of Before Today remains intact, its willing sense of diversity too, but, aside from the title track and "Only In My Dreams", which are both lovely little throwaways, wistful and bucolic, bubbling along happily lost in a stream of West Coast 60s shenanigans, there are few commercial takeaways to be found here.

True there's the pleasant lead single - a collaboration cover with DâM-FunK of the recently rediscovered funk-soul standard "Baby" by Donnie and Joe Emerson, but elsewhere things get very odd very quickly. Take the gloriously weird opener "Kinski Assassin", which talks about "dropping testicle bombs" and the exact whereabouts of a battleship. Built on little more than a dancing organ line, it brings to mind James Ferraro`s borderline experiments in tomfoolery, which, along with the cheesy retro-futurist jingle for lab-manufactured meat "Pink Slime", feel more like being taken for a ride than the stuff of subversive commentary. Similarly "Schnitzel Boogie" is a munchies-grade oddity toasted with fuzz-on-everything production and a grating vocal pitch that lacks the necessary depth to make any analysis worthwhile.

All credit then to 4AD for their notably hands-off approach when they could have demanded an album full of safe cuts and moreover for not freaking out when Pink delivered "Is This The Best Spot" - a giddy Casio-punk offering that features a covertly captured sample of label boss Simon Halliday to whom the track name must be credited. All the same, it does feel like a skit dragged out too long for the sake of an inside joke.

When push comes to shove it's tempting to give Pink the benefit of the doubt nevertheless because, true to his word, Mature Themes is only as peculiar a work as one should perhaps expect from a "rock and roller from Beverly Hills". Who then are we then to try and appraise the assonantal stream-of-conscious strangeness that is "Symphony Of The Nymph" - its strong almost-chorus is worthy of note though, rising twice out of the bong-sludge like a revelation. And what else can be said of "Early Birds Of Babylon" except that for a while it thinks it's The Doors, ultimately splitting itself apart to reveal a parallel tracking of creepy carnivalesque post-punk. Though grammatically shaky, "Nostradamus & Me" too is almost beyond classification, channelling superior psychedelic ambience and soothing synth washes comparable with those of Richard Youngs - only on acid of course.

The world needs people like Pink to be making records like Mature Themes, but guys like him are not everyday men for a good reason. Former city-mates Liars once presented an alternative Los Angeles via their dark Sisterworld LP; Mature Themes is best summed up as the other side of that coin - a hang-out for all the freaks when the lights go down ... and Pink is undoubtedly one of their ringleaders.

Advised downloads: "Only In My Dreams" and "Symphony Of The Nymph".
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on 7 September 2012
I have to say I'm not entirely convinced by this album or indeed by Ariel Pink. While this album does sound very good and the songs are quite well written and constructed, I am highly suspicious of them and think they are made a little too well. The reason for this is based on various interviews I've read with Ariel Pink and the overall sound and feel of this album. I suspect that Ariel Pink is at best a very, very good R. Stevie Moore tribute act that has managed to hoodwink a lot of people into thinking he's a musical genius but I can't shake the feeling that most of his schtick is very contrived.

I know that R.Stevie Moore is a big influence on Ariel Pink and I suppose it's inevitible that he will sound like him but this album is basically nothing more than someone doing an impression of R.Stevie Moore, even down to the faux-lo-fi recording of Schnitzel Boogie. I remember reading an interview with Ariel Pink in an August issue of NME where he was spouting various ridiculous lines like "We need more psychopathic rock stars." and "I like hot dogs. I'd do a dog any day. Man's best friend!". The more I read the interview, the more I thought that this is someone trying to say as much weird, wacky and/or controversial things as possible to appear to be more interesting than he actually is, in much the same way that Noel Fielding constantly just blurts out random nonsense (a la Ross Noble, only not as clever) to appear funnier than he actually is.

Sure, much of the interview was probably done tongue-in-cheek and photos of Ariel Pink wearing womens clothes etc may be much the same but he just seems like someone trying to portray himself as weird or wacky when he actually isn't. And because of this I don't entirely believe his music either and it just seems a little too well-thought-out and close to the likes of R.Stevie Moore for it to be nothing more than an homage or love letter to Mr Moore.

The songs on this album do sound good but I'd much rather listen to something more genuine and on this album Ariel Pink doesn't sound like he's being himself and is instead trying to be his hero. More originality please.
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on 27 May 2015
Band of choice at the moment, can't speak highly enough. Saw live, outstanding performance, cd doc not disappoint.
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on 2 November 2015
It's like Todd Rundgren grew up listening to Todd Rundgren.
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on 23 June 2016
great album different and diverse
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